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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Below a scenic turnout along the Koko Head shoreline, this oft-photographed lava tube sucks the ocean in and spits it out. Don't get too close, as conditions can get dangerous. Look to your right to see the tiny beach below that was used to film the wave-washed love scene in From Here to Eternity. In winter this is a good spot to watch whales at play. Offshore, the islands of Molokai and Lanai call like distant sirens, and every once in a while Maui is visible in blue silhouette. Take your valuables with you and lock your car, because this scenic location is overrun with tourists and therefore a hot spot for petty thieves.
Today Haleiwa is a fun mix of old and new, with charming general stores and contemporary boutiques, galleries, and eateries. During the 1920s this seaside hamlet boasted a posh hotel at the end of a railroad line (both long gone), while the 1960s saw hippies gathered here, followed by surfers from around the world. Be sure to stop in at Liliuokalani Protestant Church, founded by missionaries in the 1830s. It's fronted by a large, stone archway built in 1910 and covered with night-blooming cereus.
This sprawling multistory shopping square surrounds a courtyard with an incense-wreathed shrine and Moongate stage for holiday performances. The Chee Kung Tong Society has a beautifully decorated meeting hall here; a number of such tongs (meeting places) are hidden on upper floors in Chinatown. Outside, near the canal, local members of the community play cards and mah-jongg.
Tucked away in the back of the Valley of the Temples cemetery is a replica of the 11th-century Temple at Uji in Japan. A 2-ton carved wooden statue of the Buddha presides inside the main temple building. Next to the temple building are a meditation pavilion and gardens set dramatically against the sheer, green cliffs of the Koolau Mountains. You can ring the 5-foot, 3-ton brass bell for good luck and feed some of the hundreds of carp, ducks, and turtles that inhabit the garden's 2-acre pond. Or, you can enjoy the peaceful surroundings and just relax. www.byodo-in.com. COST: $3. OPEN: Daily 9--5.
Lined up tight in a row of seven battleships off Ford Island, the USS Arizona took a direct hit on December 7, 1941, exploded, and rests still on the shallow bottom where she settled. A visit to what is now known as the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, begins prosaically—a line, a ticket that assigns you to a group and tour time, a wait filled with shopping, visiting the museum, and strolling the grounds. When your number is called, you watch a short documentary film, then board the ferry to the memorial. The swooping, stark-white memorial, which straddles the wreck of the USS Arizona, was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis to represent both the depths of the low-spirited, early days of the war, and the uplift of victory. A somber, contemplative mood descends upon visitors during the ferry ride; this is a place where 1,777 people died. Gaze at the names of the dead carved into the wall of white marble. Scatter flowers (but no lei—the string is bad for the fish). Salute the flag. Remember Pearl Harbor. www.nps.gov/valr. COST: Free. Add $5 for museum audio tours. OPEN: Daily 7--5, tours 8--3.
Together with the Arizona Memorial, the Missouri's presence in Pearl Harbor perfectly bookends America's World War II experience, which began December 7, 1941, and ended on the "Mighty Mo's" starboard deck with the signing of the Terms of Surrender. To begin your visit, pick up tickets at the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitors' Center. Then board a shuttle bus for the eight-minute ride to Ford Island and the teak decks and towering superstructure of the Missouri. You'll find her docked for good in the very harbor from which she first went to war on January 2, 1945, as the last battleship ever built. After a year in dry dock, the Missouri has reopened, looking shipshape and offering a new "Guide2GO" system using iPod Touch units as audio-tour devices. The nonprofit organization governing this floating museum has surrounded her with buildings decked out in World War II style, including a Navy aviation-themed Ready Room and a Victory Store housing a souvenir shop and covered with period mottoes ("Don't be a blabateur").
Free hula shows liven up this open-air complex on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 7 pm. Shops carry everything from fashions to jewelry.
Heading west from Waikiki toward downtown Honolulu, you'll run into a section of town with five distinct shopping-complex areas; there are more than 80 specialty shops and 40 eateries here. The Ward Entertainment Center features 16 movie theaters, including a state-of-the-art, 3-D, big-screen auditorium. For distinctive Hawaiian gifts, such as locally made muumuu, koa wood products, and Niihau shell necklaces, visit Nohea Gallery, Martin & MacArthur, and Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii. Island Soap and Candle Works makes all of its candles and soaps on-site with Hawaiian flower scents. Take TheBus routes 19, 20, and 42; fare is $2.50 one way. Or hop on the Waikiki Trolley Red Line, which comes through the area every 40 minutes. There also is free parking nearby and a valet service. www.wardcenters.com.
This five-floor shopping center is across the street from the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Sephora, Armani Exchange, Guess, Alter Ego, and Tanaka of Tokyo Restaurant are some of its 50 shops and eateries. The Big Kahuna marketplace on the third floor has a bazaar-type feel to it with great, cheap souvenirs. The Visitor Aloha Society/Travelers Aid of Honolulu is also located here if you run into trouble while on vacation. waikikishoppingplaza.com.
Exclusive tabletop items and Pacific home decor, such as shell wreaths, shell night-lights, Hawaiian print kitchen towels, and Asian silk clothing, define this eclectic shop. www.hulamoonhawaii.com.